“Empire State of Mind” can’t even be considered a song as its impact became more of a movement. The Jay Z and Alicia Keys collaboration was a celebration of New York that went far beyond the Empire State. Fans worldwide were spitting Jay Z’s bars and belting out Alicia Keys’s catchy hook, but the singer recently revealed that the song almost never happened. Alicia joined Ebro Darden for a FaceTime interview for Beats 1 and shared all the hiccups that occurred with Jay while attempting to create the hit record.
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To begin, Alicia said that Jay Z couldn’t get ahold of her to get her on the track. Her good friend, for some reason, was having difficulty getting her on the line so he almost gave up. When they finally did link, Alicia was in Los Angeles when she received “Empire State of Mind.” She said that she was ill at the time and not only was her health a hurdle but singing a song about New York while in L.A. just messed up the vibe. Alicia finally completed her addition to the track and sent it over to Jay, but he awkwardly hit her up to ask her to rerecord it.
“He hits me back like, ‘Could you sing it again?’ And I was like, ‘What?'” she told Ebro. He also asked her to add a few ad-libs, as well. “I was a little, tiny bit embarrassed because who wants to send a song that, you know, then they friend is like, ‘Hm.’ He didn’t want to tell me that, either! But, it kind of was necessary.” She decided to re-record her parts in New York and the rest is history. Check out her interview with Ebro below to hear a few other gems from Alicia Keys.